Acoustic Wave Therapy For Cellulite (e.g. Lipotripsy)

Acoustic waves (also called sound, pressure or shock waves) have been shown to stimulate metabolic processes and improve connective tissue elasticity for cosmetic use in the treatment of cellulite, fat reduction and body contouring. The use of focused and radial Acoustic Wave Therapy (AWT™) for the treatment of cellulite is marketed by Storz Medical in the UK with the Lipotripsy™ device. Other devices are also available. Acoustic energy is delivered to the targeted area, which then creates heat and stimulates the breakdown of fat (which is metabolised by the body), lymphatic drainage and the formation of new collagen for improved skin tone and firmness. There is no real downtime associated with this treatment. Two sessions per week are recommended with up to ten sessions advised for the best results. Expect to pay around £600 for a course of ten treatment sessions.

Product Brands

ProShock Ice™

PROSHOCK ICE™ from PromoItalia combines ICE-Lipolysis™ (cryolipolysis or fat freezing) with SHOCK-therapy™ (acoustic wave therapy), for an innovative new treatment method for body reshaping and toning, as well as reducing excess fat, and the appearance of cellulite.

Background

Acoustic Wave Therapy background information

85 - 95% (depending on reports) of post-pubescent women will have cellulite, regardless of their weight or size. A number of things can influence the amount of cellulite you have, including a poor diet, lack of exercise, dehydration, hormonal changes and the thickness, tone and colour of your skin. Cellulite is more common in people who repeatedly gain and lose weight. This is because as skin is repeatedly stretched and relaxed with the weight gain and loss, it becomes harder for it to retain the natural smoothness and suppleness of its structure so the tissues become lax like a reused balloon. Cellulite is nothing more than accumulations of fat beneath the skin, but it has a bumpy appearance because the fat sitting right underneath the surface of the skin is pushing through the connective tissue which surrounds it and this gives the skin on top a puckered and dimpled appearance. This is often referred to as an ‘orange peel’ or ‘cottage cheese’ appearance.

Traditional treatments aimed at cellulite, such as creams, body brushing and liposuction are typically not particularly effective in treating cellulite. This is because creams and body brushing only target the superficial layers of skin and the appearance of cellulite, rather than penetrating within the deep tissue to target it correctly. Liposuction can actually make cellulite worse by creating more depressions and dimples on the surface of the skin.

Acoustic waves (also called sound, pressure or shock waves) have been used in medicine for the fragmentation of kidney or urinary stones because of their mechanical effects, whereby the sound or shock waves break up the stones. These machines known as lithotripters were pioneered by Dr Karl Storz and the company Storz Medical back in the 1970s. Recent studies have revealed that acoustic waves also produce biological effects, as well as mechanical ones, and may stimulate metabolic processes and improve connective tissue elasticity for cosmetic use.

If you are considering cellulite treatment through Acoustic Wave Therapy then the following information will give you a basic understanding of the procedure. It can't answer all your questions, since a lot depends on the individual patient and the practitioner. Please ask a practitioner about anything you don't understand.

Types

What are the different types of Acoustic Wave Therapy?

Acoustic Wave Therapy Handpiece

The use of focused and radial Acoustic Wave Therapy (AWT™) for the treatment of cellulite is marketed by Storz Medical in the UK with the Lipotripsy™ device (distributed by Spectrum).

The name is derived from the use of the term ‘lipo’ meaning ‘fat’ and the Greek word ‘tripsy’ meaning ‘crushed’ – much like the stone-crushing of lithotripsy.

It is a non-invasive treatment for cellulite that works in a similar way to treatments for facial skin tightening in that targeted acoustic energy is delivered to the treatment area, which then creates heat in that area of the body, inducing a healing response. The healing response then effectively “rebuilds” the skin’s matrix, improving tone and texture and smoothing out collagen dimples. It has been used in sports medicine and physiotherapy to repair torn muscles and to improve pain for a number of years and has only recently been redeveloped for cosmetic use, with excellent results according to the makers.

Other devices are available and marketed for the in-clinic and home-use marketplace.

How Does it Work?

What is Acousitc Wave Therapy and how does it work?

Acoustic wave therapy is a treatment that can be used to treat cellulite and to reshape the body, although there is also an applicator for use on the face (such as for double chins).

It stimulates the breakdown of fat cells, a process known as lipolysis, the production of new collagen, and lymphatic drainage. An applicator tip (or a probe) is passed over the treatment areas and acoustic waves are emitted through the skin at various intensities including radial or radiated waves or focused, high energy waves. Different applicators are used depending on the type of acoustic energy being delivered.

Acoustic Wave Therapy (AWT)

This generates a build-up of heat energy in the fat cells and collagen strands, which are effectively destroyed by the heat. The body’s own healing process then begins, which means that the fatty acids and fat cells are naturally passed out through the lymphatic system and excreted by the body. As collagen strands are damaged, they begin to rebuild and skin becomes smoother and tighter in the treated area.

Several processes occur as a result of the treatment: loss of fat cells which are then naturally passed through the body, a boost to collagen and elastin production, the formation of strengthened connective tissue (so that the fat cannot slip through the tissue with a puckered appearance on the outside of the skin), enhanced blood supply to that connective tissue so that it stays supple and dimple-free, improved drainage within the lymphatic system, so that fat cells can be flushed through more efficiently and increased metabolic activity, which helps to reduce oedema (swelling).

Following treatment, the skin and skin’s tissue become more permeable, so that the fluids as well as the toxins within fat cells can be released and excreted more efficiently by the lymphatic system.

Skin will be smooth and wrinkle and dimple free, and contour can be returned to the body. 

What is it Used to Treat?

What can Acoustic Wave Therapy treat?

Acoustic wave therapy is not a substitute for a healthy diet and exercise and will not help you lose weight.

However, it is a suitable treatment for cellulite and fat accumulations on the buttocks, inner and outer thighs, saddlebags, hips, knees, abdomen and arms, and can also be used to contour and reshape the whole body. Improvements can be seen within 2-3 weeks of treatment.

Most of the clinical trials conducted looking at the efficacy of this treatment have focused on treating the saddle bag area, reporting a temporary reduction in the appearance of cellulite and improvements in skin firmness. As yet there are no studies which have measured thing like the reduction on thigh circumference following treatment.

Pre-Treatment Advice

What should you do before AWT treatment?

No special measures need to be taken before treatment.

Procedure

What happens during Acoustic Wave Therapy?

Careful discussions regarding your reasons for wanting treatment for your cellulite or body shaping are very important before you begin the treatment. You must also make sure that this treatment can deliver what you want and how you would like to look afterwards. Your practitioner should be able to answer all these questions.

A medical history should also be taken to make sure that there are no reasons why you shouldn’t undertake treatment. You may be asked to sign a consent form which means that you have understood the potential benefits and risks associated with the procedure.

Photographs may also be taken by the practitioner for a "before and after" comparison at a later date.

Procedure
Your skin will be lightly cleansed by the practitioner before commencing acoustic wave therapy. The probe or applicator head will then be passed over the surface of the skin.

Treatment is described as feeling like a vigorous massage and will take between 30 minutes to 1 hour, dependent upon the area being treated.

Repeat Treatments
Two sessions per week are recommended with up to ten sessions advised for the best results.

 

Recovery

How long will it take to recover from a Acoustic Wave Therapy treatment?

There is said to be no real downtime associated with this treatment and you will be able to return to your daily activities almost immediately. Results are usually visible within 2-3 weeks (after 3 – 4 treatments) with further results occurring up to three months following treatment.

Side Effects and Risks

What are the risks and potential complications from Acoustic Wave Therapy?

The side effects of acoustic wave therapy are minimal, although you may feel some discomfort in the 24-48 hours following treatment. It has been described as feeling like a vigorous massage and so you could experience some tenderness in the treated area which may require you to take over-the-counter painkillers if it is particularly severe. Mild bruising is also possible.

Post-Treatment Advice

What should you do after an AWT treatment?

There are a number of things you are advised to do to improve the results of the therapy and to ensure that the waste products – the fat cells – are properly eliminated, including:

• Drinking at least 2-3 litres of water or green tea per day
• Following a low fat, healthy diet
• Completing 30 minutes of exercise per day, (not high impact, but something active, like a short walk)

Following these guidelines should ensure that the treatment is most effective.

Contra-indications

Who should not have Acoustic Wave Therapy?

As long as you are generally in good health and don’t have any active skin diseases or infections in the area treated, there are few medical reasons why you should not undergo this treatment.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding you would generally be advised to wait until after you have given birth or stopped feeding your child before embarking upon a course of acoustic wave therapy treatment.

If you have an infection, illness or are generally unwell, you should notify your practitioner before treatment as you may be advised to postpone it.

Those people with tumours or who are being treated with Warfarin or for any clotting disorders, who have blood pressure concerns or who have a pace-maker should not be treated with AWT.

Who Can Do It?

Who can perform Acoustic Wave Therapy (AWT)?

Suitably trained non-medical therapists can perform acoustic wave therapy treatments.
This treatment is most commonly found in beauty salons or non-surgical clinics.

Price

What is the average cost of Acoustic Wave Therapy or Lipotripsy treatment?

The cost of acoustic wave therapy treatment will vary depending on the clinic, the exact device used, the practitioner, location and the number of treated areas. For a 30 minute treatment on the arms, buttocks or stomach expect to pay from £60. A 60 minute treatment on the upper legs, front and back, bottom and stomach costs from £90. Discounts are usually applied to a programme of treatments so a course of ten treatment sessions tend to start from around £600.

Conclusion

Summary of Acoustic Wave Therapy information

Acoustic Wave Therapy or Radial Wave Therapy (most commonly marketed in the UK with the Lipotripsy™ device) is a unique non-invasive treatment for cellulite. It uses focused and radial acoustic (shock) waves to trigger a butterfly-effect of processes including flushing fat cells through the lymphatic system, boosting collagen production and forming stronger connective tissue. Provided that you maintain a healthy diet and exercise regime, treatment yields permanent results.

Studies have demonstrated treatment with acoustic wave therapy to be both safe and effective for the treatment of localised fat deposits and have shown improvements in the appearance of cellulite and skin tone and firmness following a course of treatments.